FCC Chair Hoping For Retrans Deals

Says consumers need to be clearly informed of programming disruption possibilities
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Without naming any names, FCC Chairman Julius
Genachwoski said Thursday the FCC continued to talk with the parties involved
in ongoing retransmission consent negotiations--that would include prominently
Fox and Cablevision--and that he was hoping the two sides would come to an
agreement.

"We will work with the different parties to
try and encourage deals being done in a timely way," he said.

The deadline for the Fox/Cable vision deal is Oct.
15.

The chairman, responding to a question at a press
conference following the FCC's monthly public meeting, said he continued to be
concerned about the impact on consumers of those impasses and that the FCC
continued to "push for greater information and notice" of potential
programming disruptions.

Asked to elaborate, he pointed to the retrans
impasses at the end of last year. He said one of the challenges was the
possibility that signals might be pulled on a Friday of the New Year's weekend
before some "compelling" programming aired (college bowl games in
particular).

Sinclair and Mediacom eventually came to a deal
without any programming disruptions that could have meant some football fans
missing their local college team bowl games. But Genachowski is concerned that
viewers aren't getting sufficient information about the possibilities of losing
programming and what their options are.

But he also said he thought that all the parties
involved "understand that there are real risks of not reaching a
deal." One of those risks is congressional pressure on the FCC to step in.

The commission earlier this year solicited comment
on changes to the retrans system proposed in a petition for rulemaking by cable
companies, satellite operators and others, but has not taken any action on the
request.

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